The Parting of Arwen and Elrond

© 2000 Michael Kennedy

Before her marriage to Fastred of Greenholm in 1451, Elanor the Fair was made a maid of honour to Arwen in 1436. In the following years much friendship developed between the two and Elanor became Arwen's confidant through continuing correspondence. Much did Arwen divulge to Elanor about her life that was both grievous and blessed. On Elanor's marriage, Arwen gave as a gift to Elanor her private diaries in which she recorded in some detail events surrounding her life. Elanor translated the diaries from Elven to the Common Tongue (Westron), but was loathe to make known these writings, owing to their personal nature and her undying loyalty to Arwen, and so did not include them in the Red book of the Westmarch. For years they remained hidden until generations later they were discovered buried, along with a mysterious small wooden box, by Elanor's great-great-great grandson Elrondo Fairbairn and subsequently added to an amended edition of The Red Book of Westmarch. It is thought that Professor Tolkien, much like his own personal letters, kept them hidden from the history.

What follows is taken from Arwen's diary, as translated by Elanor, and is dated August 13th, 3019 (S.R. 1419)

"None saw her last meeting with Elrond her father, for they went up into the hills and there spoke long together, and bitter was their parting that should endure beyond the ends of the world."

Following a grass-grown but sure path, Arwen Evenstar, lately crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, and Elrond her father, walked hand in hand as they ascended the ever-climbing verdant foothills, at the base of the White Mountains, behind Edoras. A light westerly wind set the long grass around them swaying and wafting, as if waving farewell to the days end. The same wind tugged at Arwen's long dark hair that flowed down her back, stark against the lime-green silk dress she had worn to Theoden's funeral earlier that day.

Alone with her father for the first time in days, a sense of foreboding and inevitability weighed heavily on Arwen. Elrond spoke reflectively in a quiet voice as they walked,

"We have been witness to some remarkable times Arwen."

Arwen turned slowly to face Elrond as they continued to climb uphill. "More than I could ever imagine Father, and not the least of which was Theoden's funeral today."

"This is true." Elrond agreed. "It was an astonishing day. It is clear to me that Theoden was a much-loved leader and a great man in the end. I am sorry I did not know him better."

"Me also. Too many great men have died through the ages. I hope now that, under Elessar's rule, less men will perish in battle, and no more slain kings will have to be buried." replied Arwen.

"You know, the funeral and burial of a man, especially a king, is a curious event, don't you think?

"How so Father?"

"Well . . . they die, their bodies are buried in a barrow, the people weep and wail for their loss, and then they celebrate – all in one day! To be honest, the whole barrow burial I find . . . uncomfortable. I think I would prefer Denethor's pyre."

"Let us not speak of Denethor today. As for the burial of a King such as Theoden, it is purely a reflection of the unknown afterlife that shrouds mankind. They can only do what they can now, weep for their king they will never see again, yet celebrate and honour him by recalling his triumphs. Theoden achieved more than most men or elves ever would, even in our reckoning." Arwen remarked.

Elrond shook his head. "This makes his fate even the crueller. It still seems an injustice to me that his life has come to this final end."

"Not a final end Father. Their . . . my fate is unclear but I do not believe there is an absolute end for men, just a mysterious one."

"It is a fate sundered from the elves. That, at least is not a mystery Arwen!"

The air swiftly stilled and the speech was silent as they hiked far afield to the summit of a green knoll that looked northwest back over Edoras. Meduseld's golden summit shone softly in the easterly setting sun, and Arwen could make out the dark-flowing Snowbourn snaking around the verge of Edoras and escaping in an easterly direction to lose itself in the wide fields of Rohan.

Walking silently with her father for the last hour, Arwen was never more conscious of time passing as she was at that moment. "Is this what it means to be mortal where time seems both precious and pressing?" she thought to herself. Letting go of her hand Elrond gestured to the North, dark-blue Vilya briefly visible in the waning light. At last Elrond spoke.

"Can you still see far and wide with your Elven eyes the wild horses roaming free and unbridled over the green fields of Calenardhon?" Elrond continued to gaze northwards with his arm raised, chasing his gaze.

Arwen followed her Father's eyes and looked across Edoras to the fields of Rohan. "Yes, Father. They are beautiful beasts to behold. How fortunate they are to run so carefree."

"Fortunate indeed! But more fortunate it would be if this moment could be stilled. Alas for the evening that chases me, which will too soon veil this view even from my eyes." Elrond lowered his arm and faced his daughter but his eyes she could not meet.

"It is the memory that I will cherish", said Arwen softly, as if talking to herself.

Elrond snapped. "Memories! I have memories enough! What good are memories if they cannot be held, if they cannot be made to live, to exist? Who would have thought that I could almost understand the dwarf."

Arwen turned to face her father, anguish etched into her face. "Father, why do you speak so? This day has been pre-ordained for many years, even by you."

Elrond paused and turned briefly to face the west, Starkhorn surging suddenly into view to his left.

"That may be so, but that makes it none easier to bear."

Arwen could feel her spirit being dragged downwards with the setting sun. She did not want to part her father in misery. "Do you think this darkening day is easy for me also?"

"No, but. . ."

"Father, I may be a Queen, wife to the King of the United Kingdom, but I'll always be your loving daughter, first and foremost".

"Even after you . . ." Elrond left his spoken thoughts unfinished.

"Die! Perish! Leave for a mortal fate unknown!" Arwen replied heatedly.

Elrond did not respond, unless his trembling lips and lined brow betrayed his thoughts. Arwen, rarely if ever, had ever spoken so vehemently to her Father but such was the turmoil in her mind. Regaining her composure Arwen spoke softly with a feeble tremor in her voice, "Father, why then did you give your permission to Elessar to be my husband?"

"What choice did I have? Still, it was no idle task I set him for your hand. Did I not hope somehow that just like Elu Thingol so set Beren in the hopeless quest of the Silmaril on Morgoth's crown, that Elessar would not be able to accomplish the charge I gave him. So does a fearful Father utter wild words that he cannot take back."

Arwen choked back a cry. Could her ears be betraying her? "Are you saying you wanted Elessar to fail, for the Dark Lord to reign?" Arwen replied in disbelief.

"Nay! Say rather I did not believe my adopted son could succeed against such malevolent might. I have been proved wrong for the good of Middle Earth, but what of it? If the Dark Lord has perished why do I still feel his clutches. Everything is closing in, our days are numbered and soon I will go West to Celebrian and maybe there I can heal some old wounds. However, I did not give my Fea, my being to your mother. I gave it to you. Did you know that I too will feel your mortality? The moment you die I will know because a part of me will go with you . . . wherever that may be."

Arwen closed her eyes, wringing out tears as she spoke in a trembling voice. "I am sorry for all this Father but the choice has been made. In the end I love Elessar and he loves me. I pray that in this at least you will find some solace."

"I thought a King for my daughter would lessen the grief, but even though He is as my son, my grief is not lessened. I can still remember the day I revealed to Aragorn who he was, who he is. He was so young, even for a man and yet the Ring of Barahir and the shards of Narsil did not overburden him. I knew then that this would be a man to be reckoned with and I was content, for a short while. When he met you for the first time, a shadow soon crept over me, that same shadow now threatens to engulf me. Did you know Gilraen and I were of like mind but alas we could not persuade him in his affections for you? Do not misunderstand me Arwen, nor judge me too harshly in this matter. Elessar is as my son and I love him dearly. It is for you I bleed. A King will not save you from . . ."

Arwen interrupted. "Save me? I do not want to be saved. I want to live for the now, not just be. I want to cherish the moments left to me, knowing that there is an end. It seems now that each moment is somehow more potent, more meaningful in a way I have never before known. Perhaps later when time overtakes me, and everything I love perishes, I will come to rue my choice but that the Mirror did not show me."

"You will and when you do my heart will be surely sundered. I too will desire an end, but for me that end will be a long time coming I fear."

"Please Father. Let us not dwell on ending and destruction. Remember what you and others have achieved, what people such as King Theoden died for. The Dark Lord reigns no longer; the Black Land is destroyed; the White Tree thrives again; we have a united realm. Father, please know that the events of the past year will live on through our children and . . . my children until time stops. At least that is my new hope.

Elrond raised an eyebrow in a quizzical manner "My children?"

"Would you find joy in a grandson?" Arwen smiled at her father, hopefully. She observed her father's reaction closely and a tiny glimmer of light came into his eyes.

"A grandson! What? . . . What are you saying? . . . Are you . . .?"

"Yes. Even now I carry the future King, your grandson. In less than one coranar my only son will be born and I am sorry he will not have your guidance. He may not grow up knowing you Father but he will grow up loving you. I want him to remember you and to know where he came from. It is for this reason that I ask just one request of you before we are parted this day."

Elrond bowed his head. "Please do not ask me to stay Arwen."

"No! I do not ask for what cannot be done. I want you to leave a legacy. I want my son to know he is descended from the Elven race, from you. I want you to name him."

"What! Me! But, what about Elessar? Surely, he is entitled to give his child the father-name? And how do you know you are to have a son?"

"Galadriel's mirror has shown me much, some of which I wish now had remained veiled to me. Elessar also knows and he wants the same. You were….are a father to him and he loves you dearly. He would beg you if he was able. He plans to name him Elrond otherwise."

"Really?" Elrond chuckled quietly. "Aragorn was never one for flights of fancy. Still, I do not like to go against a father's wishes especially in such high matters." Elrond considered this request. He turned his head thoughtfully to gaze up at Starkhorn, its pearly-white crown raised to the heavens. Arwen waited anxiously with fists clenched and downcast eyes. After some moments Elrond turned back to Arwen and spoke.

"If I would choose, perhaps then a name of compromise. Eldarion. Yes, Eldarion would be the name I would choose, both carrying my name and his lineage."

Arwen repeated the name silently in her mind and knew the name was more than fitting. "Eldarion it will be then." With this decided, she knew the moment of parting was nigh but now that it was here, she was in dread.

"The night will soon net us Father and there is a chill in the air. Let us bid farewell, while there is still light." Arwen held out her arm towards her father. Offering her hand he took it in his and gently layed a soft kiss on the top of her fair hand. Looking into her eyes he said,

"I do bid you farewell Arwen, daughter of my heart, but do not bid me farewell. Bid me fair voyage, even fair West but I fear I will not fare well until worlds end." Elrond dropped to his knees, weeping openly and in a pleading shaking voice asked, "Will you not consider sailing to the West when the time comes for me to leave?"

Tears welled up in Arwen's eyes but remaining strong she replied, "Do not ask that of me Father. I have no place on that voyage now. I have given my place willingly to Frodo. Yet, I leave you today with hope that we will meet again in a fate unlooked for."

Elrond bowed his head and released Arwen's hand. "So be it."

And with these final three words, no more did Elrond half-elven and his beloved daughter ever speak again.

Rising to his feet, Elrond grief-stricken turned abruptly and strode hastily away down the path they climbed earlier. If anyone had seen Arwen watching her father walk away, they would have seen a lone dark-green figure standing like an aged tree, still in solitude with head bowed, as if rooted to the earth. Tears streamed freely down her face watering the grasses of Edoras with bitter salt. Long she remained on that knoll and only when the setting sun at last left the heavens, did Arwen Evenstar arouse from her anguish and make her way back slowly to Edoras.

It was rumoured later that no one walked that hill under Starkhorn ever after for fear of unabated grief, and if one did they would be swallowed by a gloomy heavy mist and you could not see west.

Back to Tilkal, Issue 1, eJournal of Tol Harndor